One of the most common questions during late October/early November is “I overseeded my lawn a few weeks ago and now I need to know how to proceed?” First of all, if you are asking yourself this question that means you take pride in your lawn and you are looking to have a beautiful lawn all winter and spring. If you put the seed down and haven’t thought about what’s next you may just end up with the yellow lawn on the block after we get a couple fall freezes. I have talked about several fertilizers that will work to get your lawn established and I will go over another plan of attack today so you can look beyond the month of October and enjoy your turf all winter long.

Many homeowners, developments, golf courses, and hotels really look forward to the winter weather not only for the visitors but also foe the season when we can grow ryegrass. If only we lived in a place that could grow a year round grass and not get into this mess every year life would be great, but then again we would have to suffer through the cold winters that most people moved away from the first chance they had. Since that is a dream for the unforeseeable future let’s talk about how you will get your lawn to look like the neighborhood country club. If you think they only have perfect grass because they spend a ton of money you would actually be pretty far off base. There are several golf courses with large budgets, but most of the money is in labor, equipment, water, pesticides, and too many other things to name. Yes fertilizer does cost a pretty penny especially with today’s oil prices but when you treat your lawn with the proper nutrients you can save yourself a ton of money down the road.

I can tell you that most golf courses alternate between just a couple foliar fertilizers. They shoot for this initial growing period as a time to get the granular fertilizers down and into the plant so the ryegrass is healthy and growing before the soil temperatures start to drop. Why? This is because when the soil temperature is too cold it can no longer take up nutrients from the soil efficiently and many are left sitting in the ground till the spring or they are eventually leached into the ground water below. Therefore they use this optimal growing season to push the ryegrass and get it up and moving.
Ryegrass is a bunch grass and while it is a single plant it does tiller and become thicker over the year.

In order to get your thin lawn too become dense you need to fertilize it early and often. So that takes me to now. We are one to three weeks into the overseed season depending on when you dropped seed and should be on your second to third fertilizer application already. Lately I have heard some conversations from people who have been using ammonium sulfate to get the ryegrass up and established after the seed goes down. I am not a big fan of this all though you may hear others rave about their success I worry that all you are getting is top growth and you have done nothing to improve your root structure. What is going to hold the grass plant together come late fall? The shoots are going to slow regardless of the amount of nitrogen you put down because of the cooler weather and you will be left with a weak grass plant. So what do I suggest? I outlined the easy 1,2,3 steps in several of the blogs and many of you have used this approach and I have heard rave reviews, but for those of you who are unfamiliar or not sure where to get the products I will give some generic alternatives.

The starter fertilizer is one of the most important steps in the initial overseeding process because you are supplying the seed with balanced nutrients that will help it germinate quickly, establish a new grass plant, and once established get it growing. If you did not put down a starter fertilizer it is not too late and I like any of the following: Soil Burst 5-15-10 (available online at or check the website for a pick up location near you. If you don’t have a participating Ace Hardware, Sprinkler World, or nursery close you can usually pick up a bag of 6-20-20 from most home improvement stores. I do prefer the 5-15-10 because you are supplying the grass with manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Once the grass has been growing for a couple weeks and you have made your initial mowing it the perfect time to get down a second fertilizer application. When your lawn reaches about two inches it is strong enough to mow and this is best accomplished by drying down the lawn for a half day and getting a clean cut on the turf. It is always better to mow the grass dry so you don’t rut up the ground or pull out new innocent grass plants. Once the cut has been made you can make your second application of fertilizer and this is when I like to give the lawn a little bit of a push. Again sticking to the balance fertilizer method of supplying the grass with the right nutrients I choose to use the Soil Burst 7-7-7 at 1.5 quarts per 1000 SF. All of the Soil Burst products are available online and from several retailers listed online but again if you cannot find any you can use a 10-10-10 or 15-15-15 which is available at several locations. I prefer the liquid application here to help aid the shoots in growth and because it is translocated to the roots for uptake by the new grass plant. This application is usually made 10-14 days after seeding takes place and the first mowing has been made.

Okay that takes us up to where several people are today and that is between the 21-28 day range since they dropped their seed. There are lots of options at this point but the best thing you can do here is give the grass a good push, and make sure you get a good quality fertilizer to help the root system. You can use a balanced shot of Turf Royale 21-7-14, the Soil Burst 4-0-6 or if you desire stick to another application of 15-15-15 and make sure your grass is good and healthy before the middle of November. If you seeded in early September you will need to make another late fall application just to get the ryegrass to outcompete any remaining bermudagrass, but if you went in the last couple weeks you will be good to go for the winter.

These are some of the easiest fertilizer tips I can give you at this time of the year. As I have said you really need to get the lawn up and growing early or it will be a struggle for you all season long. A lawn that lacks in fertilizer going into the cold season will often show lots of signs of dormant bermudagrass in the turf, sometimes yellow spots till the ryegrass fills in, or you will have a yellow color all season long. The great thing about the Soil Burst is you can buy these in a package and use them monthly during the winter months to keep your turf looking like a golf course. The same stuff that is packaged in those little bottles is what golf courses use all winter long to get that dark green color. So if you learned anything from me in the last few weeks it is don’t cheat yourself and buy a low quality seed and get that grass sup and going early.

Race Reports

I have had a few people email me to ask how the running is going lately and if I still have the streak going. I have been running well as of late and the streak hit 580 consecutive days this morning. I do have an interesting race report from this past weekend and some information for those of you interested in getting into running. Be sure to check out my new website at This site has tons of different trail maps of all levels, product reviews to help you get into running, and a race calendar with everything from 5k’s to 100 milers. Be sure to join the Facebook Fan Page while you are there and subscribe by email if you would like to receive my blog updates.

Please let me know if you have any questions!